Volume 17 Number 41
                       Produced: Wed Dec 21 23:42:09 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Jacob & Rachel
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Loopholes and legal fictions
         [Akiva Miller]
Mezonot Rolls Article
         [Avi Feldblum]
Relativity and the Jewish Problem
         [Mechy Frankel]


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 94 8:46:08 EST
Subject: Re: Jacob & Rachel

> >From: <rya@...> (Roni Averick)
> Mizrachi commentary on Rashi:
>     ... when the first son was born from Rachel, Jacob's intentions were
>     fulfilled.  And thus it says in Breishit Rabbah: 'These are the
>     generations of Jacob; Joseph' means that these generations occurred
>     only because of the merit of Joseph and for Joseph.  Jacob lived by
>     Lavan only for Rachel.  All of these generations had to wait until
>     Joseph was born..."

Especially in our day of being called Yehudim, with basic lineage of
Yehuda and Binyamin (basically, no Yoseif) and some of the tribe of
Levi, it is very interesting to look at the ultimate destiny of Yehuda
vs.  Yoseif.  It seems to me that it is Yehuda, not Yoseif, who is the
bearer of the tradition passed on by Ya'acov.  The basic line of
kingship and the ultimate redeemer are attributed to Yehuda.  While
there is the notion of a "moshiach" from the house of Yosef, at best
he is preparing for the advent of the moshiach from the house of
David.  I wonder at the relationship between the intent of Ya'acov, as
attributed to him in the above commentaries, and what actually
happened (and will happen).  Sometimes it seems to me that this is yet
another example of "misguided" (pardon the expression, I am a father
too) fatherhood, in which even with the best of intentions, the father
doesn't quite manage to align his actions with regard to his children
with the ultimate destiny of his children.  Examples of this include
Avraham not sending away Yishmael till God commands him to listen to
everything that Sarah tells him in this regard, Yitzchak wishing to
bless Eisav, and Ya'acov's preoccupation with Yoseif.  Hmm, maybe
there's something there about mothers being more "accurate" or in
touch parents.  [1/2 :-)] 

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 1994 22:40:59 -0500
Subject: Loopholes and legal fictions

Several posters have raised important questions, and I will admit that I
need to revise what I wrote in MJ 17:30, namely:

>It is true that legal fictions are recognized by Halacha, but never as a
>way to violate a Torah law, only as a way to "get around" a rabbinic law.
>It is important to note that the same rabbis who instituted the
>prohibition are those who invented the loophole.

This is how I now feel I should have written it:

>It is true that legal fictions are recognized by Halacha, but never
>as a way to *violate* a law, only as a way to "get around" a law.
>It is important to note that if there is a loophole in a Rabbinic
>law, the same rabbis who made the law also made the loophole. And
>if there is a loophole in a Torah law, it is the Torah itself which
>provides the loophole.

Furthermore, I believe that loopholes in a Torah law are generally
sanctioned only in situations of great need, such as when two mitzvos
are in conflict, and a means must be found to accomodate observing
both. Often, the Rabbis felt that a certain mitzva caused extreme
hardship to an individual or a group, and they felt that the more
important mitzva was to alleviate that hardship.

Example: Shmitta (the Sabbatical year) is a Torah law (though most
opinions say that it is rabbinic nowadays). At the end of the year, all
monetary debts between individuals are cancelled, but not debts owed to
the Beis Din (court). When the rabbis saw that people stopped lending
money when the Shmitta year got near, and this was a great hardship upon
the poor, the Prozbul was instituted, by which loans could be
transferred to the court.  Creditors then had no fear of being unable to
collect their debts, and the poor did not get their credit cut off. This
loophole was not a piece of rabbinic magic, but part of the Torah
original plan.

Example: The Torah prohibits owning chometz during Passover. The way I
remember it from Rabbi Eider's Summary of Halachos of Pesach
(unfortunately I cannot find my copy right now), getting rid of one's
chometz was not a hardship until the middle ages, when it became common
for Jews to own liquor stores and distributorships. Such a large amount
of beer and other chometz could not be gotten rid of easily and
quickly. Fortunately, the Torah allows one to sell one's chometz, and to
rent out the premises where it is located.

Example: The Torah prohibits a Jew to borrow money from another Jew and
repay it with interest. But it allows two Jews to become partners in
business and share the profits. This is the basic idea behind the "Heter
Iska", but too many people do not realize how many many conditions must
be met before the rabbi will grant a Heter Iska. The fine line between
repaying a loan, and paying dividends on an investment, is often hard to
see. I recommend chaper 19 of "Contemporary Halachic Problems Volume 2"
by Rabbi J. David Bleich.

In a perfect world, no situation would arise which would put mitzvos in
conflict. In that world, we would never need to use the excuse of
"danger to life" in order to justify driving someone to the hospital on
Shabbos. We would not have to cry "batel b'shishim" when a small amount
of the wrong food is mixed in to the other food.

But this is not a perfect world. We like to percieve ourselves as
idealists, but as soon as things get difficult, we become a lot more
practical. Is there anyone among us who has not at some point asked, or
at least wanted to ask, "Rabbi, isn't there some way around that?"

According to Torah law, the Four Species which one takes on the first
day of Sukkos must belong to himself. A borrowed one is invalid. Now,
imagine that on Sukkos morning you discover that the beautiful set you
purchased is actually posul (invalid) for some reason. What are you
going to do?  Personally, I cannot figure out the difference between a
borrowed lulav, and a lulav which was "a gift on condition that it is
returned". But the rabbis do see such a difference, and your friend can
give you his lulav as a gift so that you can use it, and even stipulate
that you immediately give it back.  The idealist who chooses not to use
this procedure would be guilty of not taking the lulav that day.

Is this a loophole? Is this a legal fiction? You bet it is. Is it wrong?
No way! Count me among those who say that it *feels* wrong, but all that
means is that I don't fully understand the mitzvos involved. I don't
know why a borrowed lulav is invalid, but whatever the reason is, it
doesn't apply to one which I own, even if only temporarily. So I guess I
have more learning to do.


From: <ayf@...> (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 94 15:09:02 EST
Subject: Mezonot Rolls Article

[OK, the date here is almost right, just one character out of 17.
Anyhow, on the 1st anniversary of Steve sending this in, I do now have
permission from Rabbi Luban and Jewish Action to put up Rabbi Luban's
articles, so here is the article on Mezonot rolls. We had quite a good
number of people who downloaded the Bishul Akum article, and if you
found that good reading, then give this a try. I'm including Steves
original note to me, and the first paragraph of Rabbi Luban's article.
Directions to get the article from the archives follow.  Avi Feldblum,

December 21, 1993


Here's the text of the article on Mezonos Rolls (an oxymoron, OU 
claims).  It makes an interesting companion piece to the one I sent in 
last year from the Star-K and I think it would be of interest to mj 
readers.  due to it's length I suppose it belongs on the archive as a 
separate piece.

I haven't called anyone at OU concerning permission to put on the net.  
I thought that perhaps you knew some folks at OU whom you could call, 
or have some other mj'er do it.

Steve Prensky

             The Mezonot Roll.... Is it a piece of cake?
            [ Published in Jewish Action, Winter 1993/94]

Knowing what blessing to say on all those new grain products is not as 
simple as it looks. Today's trick question is: "What brochah do you 
say on a mezonos roll?"

                        By Rabbi Yaakov Luban

At some unknown time in history, an enterprising fellow made a batter 
of bread dough and substituted fruit juice for water. After baking the 
dough in the form of rolls, this innovator searched for an appropriate 
name to describe this new product. Perhaps he or she experimented with 
such bland names as "Rolls Made with Fruit Juice" or, more simply, 
"Fruity Rolls." Eventually, with a stroke of genius, a new phrase was 
coined: "Mezonos Rolls." 

To get the full article:

	send the following message:	get mail-jewish mezonot.txt
	to:				<listproc@...>

	ftp to shamash.nysernet.org, cd to
israel/lists/mail-jewish/Special_Topics, get mezonot.txt

	gopher to shamash.nysernet.org, choose Jewish Lists from the top
menu, page down to mail-jewish on the Lists menu, choose Special Topics
from the mail-jewish top menu, and then choose Rabbi Luban's article on
Mezonot Rolls.

	[I'll change this soon. Right now it will just call the gopher]
	URL: http://shamash.nysernet.org/mail-jewish
	click on Special Topics, [that brings you up on the gopher in
that area.]

That's it, so enjoy. Avi.


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 14:05:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Relativity and the Jewish Problem

1. Joshua Burton responded recently to a poster's suggestion that a
geocentric perspective would necessarily imply that stars would circle
the earth at greater than the speed of light, a violation of relativity,
by pointing out that this was in fact incorrect, and that the
calculation done properly, with no constraint on which coordinate system
to perform it in, will not result in anything moving faster than light.
This is all well and good, but I also resonated negatively to yet
another point in the poster's original message, which was language that
suggested that anything which moves faster than light is somehow a
violation of relativity. While a common conception, this too is
incorrect as there are any number of physical processes which may
proceed faster than light without any such "violation" (though it
doesn't mean that they actually exist). These include e.g. the expansion
velocity of the universe during an inflationery phase (if you believe in
inflation, allowing for the possibility of a Divine Fine Tuner of
Initial Conditions takes some of the urgency out of the matter), the
propagation of quantum mechanical correlation information (as in an
EPR-like experiment with one measurement taking place in a galaxy far
far away), tachyons, electromagnetic phase (and even group velocities
under some circumstances - though the physical interpretation starts
getting murky). What relativity doesn't abide is propagating signals, or
information, faster than light - a subtle but powerful distinction.

2. So, is this good for the jews or what. It seems to me that - in the
spirit of some recent references to jewish perspectives on
extra-terrestrial life - that there are serious (well, almost serious)
philosophical/halachik issues associated with relativity that have not
even begun to be explored. e.g.  relativists have somewhat elastic
notions of "before" and "after" and have even been known to flinch when
informed that certain events occurred "simultaneously". So consider a
guy on a spaceship who writes a get for a woman on another
spaceship/planet. (I'll assume further that the get is accepted on the
first spaceship by the women's shaliach). The women (calculating from
her perspective when the shaliach received the get) remarries on this
basis and produces a child. However, from the perspective (coordinate
system) of the interplanetary bais din, the second marriage may have
taken place before the first one was ended. Is the child a mamzer? ditto
for a guy on a spaceship who is mafkir his field back home, while on the
home front someone "steals" the fruit from the field. From when to we
reckon the hefker to have occurred and is the second guy guitly of
genaiva? ditto for cases involving prior liens, etc.  How do we sort out
the different coordinate systems for the important halachik concept of
precedence? From whose perspective do we ascertain what's prior to what?
Perhaps future takkanos will proscribe marriage or business contracts
with off-planet folk - along the lines of an earlier posek who,
confronted with the shabbos and zimanim problems in polar regions,
responded that jews should not be allowed to live there. Then, of
course, there are the myriad halachos which depend on physical length
measurements or shiurim of some sort.

3. In any event, it seems like bochurim in the Yeshivos of the Greater
and Lesser Megellanic Clouds will have plenty of stuff to discuss and
references to spaced out talmidim will take on new dimension.

Mechy Frankel                                   H: (301) 593-3949
<frankel@...>                            W: (703) 325-1277


End of Volume 17 Issue 41